Investing & Economy

Planning for Change Keeps Clients on Course

 

Two fundamental beliefs at San Francisco-based Mosaic Financial Partners: clients deserve honest, transparent, conflict-free advice to guide them, and planning is best performed continuously throughout their lifetime so they can successfully navigate life’s transitions and unexpected events.

“Personal financial issues impact much of our everyday lives as well as our plans for the future,” said Norman M. Boone, founder and president of the financial planning and investment management firm. “Unfortunately, too many people are unfamiliar with—and are therefore uncomfortable about—financial issues, so these issues don’t get addressed in appropriate and timely ways. People too often fail to plan ahead. If you don’t plan for the possibilities, you probably won’t like the outcome. Lack of understanding, plus a lack of planning, typically results in sub-optimal decisions. Our job as financial planners is to help educate our clients, to help them identify important issues and plan for them, so they can flourish.”

With an investment minimum of $1.5 million, Mosaic Financial Partners, Inc. advises people who have enjoyed some success in life, most often including corporate executives, business owners and professionals. Their “model client” is a female executive, concerned not only with her managerial responsibilities, but with concerns about her compensation complexities, her husband and kids, as well as her aging parents. Addressing her life requires analyzing a broad range of issues, including career development, estate planning, insurance needs, taxes, investments, preparing for retirement, and philanthropic strategies.

Mosaic encourages an internal culture based on intellectual curiosity and continuous education. “Given the relative success of our clients, we have to stay on top of our own game. For us to be able to offer the best counsel to our clients, it’s critical that we routinely scan the environment to learn what's changed and what new and better ideas are out there. We’re always asking the question, ‘is there a better way for us to serve our clients?’”

“For example, we came out of the 2008 Great Recession with an appreciation that the downturn created a lot of fear for many of our clients. We wanted to find a way to help our clients continue to invest for growth, but at the same, try to minimize their potential losses when markets turn negative. As a result, beyond the stock and bond exposure we get through ETFs and mutual funds, we’ve added more real estate and alternative strategies. The extra diversification offers broader protection on the downside while still providing plenty of upside opportunities,” Boone said.

The best advisors are fully trustworthy. Boone, who co-authored the investment textbook Creating an Investment Policy Statement: Guidelines and Templates and founded online software technology platform IPS AdvisorPro® purchased by Fi360 in 2013, is passionate about the fiduciary issue. “Fiduciaries are people you can trust to do the right thing. We have publicly positioned ourselves as fiduciaries for 25 years and we are strong believers that part of our role as a trusted advisor—and part of the way we've earned that trust—is to always put our clients’ interests first and disclose any conflicts,” said Boone.

Mosaic adopted the new fiduciary rules set forth by the U.S. Department of Labor well before it was required, updating their internal processes and procedures accordingly in support of the initiative. But ultimately, Boone would like to see the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission take the lead in establishing the requirements. “In everything that financial advisors do, they should be required to put the clients’ best interests first. ‘Suitability’ is not a satisfactory criterion by which anybody, including financial advisors, ought to be able to recommend choices,” said Boone.

“At Mosaic, we see ourselves foremost as financial planners who perform top-notch investment management, rather than being primarily investment managers. We take a holistic view of a client's life, starting with their goals and values. This means that we work with all the key parts of our clients’ lives, going well beyond just their investments.”

“Of course,” Boone continued, “good investing is vital to a client’s need to accumulate assets for the future. Fundamentally, our investment philosophy is that we want a fully-diversified portfolio with broad representation in all major asset classes, customized to serve the individual client’s life goals and needs,” said Boone. “We're not shooting for the highest returns. What we're shooting for is to raise the probability of our clients achieving their goals over time. Our success is not based on chasing the latest fad, but on making effective long-term decisions.”

As part of their comprehensive approach, Mosaic Financial Partners offers clients coaching services, a unique aspect for an advisory firm, but one Boone predicts is sure to become more common. For over a decade, at least one member of the firm has been a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach®. Currently, three additional advisors are working towards certification through the Coaches Training Institute.

“Eventually, we hope all our advisors will possess coaching skills. We think that coaching is going to be an increasing part of the advisory relationship. Beyond the decisions a client needs to make, one of the most difficult things for people to do is to learn to modify their behavior so that what they do supports those decisions. They may know they should do certain things, but can't get themselves to do those things. Coaching gives us an additional ability to help clients adapt to their world and realize their goals and dreams.”

For more information on Mosaic Financial Partners, Inc., visit: www.mosaicfp.com

 

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